The heat and humidity of New York City summers make walking into a cool gallery all the sweeter. When you’re ready to come inside, here are six local exhibits on which to feast your eyes:
Our Haus @ Austrian Cultural Forum
On view through August 26
Rainer Prohaska’s latest culinary project Cuisine à tous les étages (Kitchen on every floor) winds from the top to the bottom of this multi-floor group exhibition. A series of cooking stations, set up between each flight of stairs, provide food items, a cutting board, cooking utensils and instructions. At the opening reception, Prohaska led guests through the preparation of vegan beef tartare. An empty dinner table remains in the basement as a remnant of the communal dinner and continues to encourage conviviality. Visitors can make use of the table when partaking of Mathias Kessler’s interactive beverage installation Das Eismeer. Die gescheiterte Hoffnung (2012). Kessler invites visitors to remove and enjoy a cold Budweiser from a small refrigerator, and in so doing help him to create another object. The repeated opening and closing of the door adds layers of ice to a small sculpture behind the freezer flap–a replica of Caspar David Friedrich’s icy landscape of the same title. Curated by former Eyebeam director Amanda McDonald Crowley, Our Haus commemorates the ten-year anniversary of the building and the Forum’s ongoing efforts to be a space for cross-cultural exchange. Crowley writes, “With a kitchen in place, we will surely celebrate with food, as many of the finest conversations begin over good food.”
Lunch Hour NYC @ New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
On view through February 13
Lunch Hour NYC emphasizes how the hurriedness of New York City life has, since industrialization, changed how and what we consume midday, in private and public. The curators suggest that New York, where people are always on the go and trying to make a buck, “reinvented” the meaning of lunch “in its own image.” Objects from the Library’s collections–from antique flatware to old cookbooks to photographs of eateries from Chinatown to Harlem–form a lively diorama of over a century of local consumption. Although the Library holds a world-class collection of historical menus, they’re outshined in this installation by observable crowd-pleasers such as an Automat, the healthier ancestor of the vending machine. Parts of the exhibition touch on today’s obesity epidemic and dieting obsessions, but none too heavily. Lunch Hour NYC is all about giving people a taste of the city. Five food truck vendors have been invited to park outside the Library every weekday afternoon through Labor Day. Milk Truck, a personal favorite, offers gourmet grilled cheese every Tuesday. Find the full schedule here. While you’re online, jump to the Library’s menu collection, and join in their effort to transcribe 45,000 restaurant menus, one dish at a time.
Visual Feast: A Pattern and Decoration Exhibition @ Accola Griefen Gallery
On view through August 4
Ornate objects, rich with color and references to folk and non-European visual traditions, characterized the Pattern & Decoration Movement of the 1970s and 1980s. Visual Feast pays homage to P&D and brings the style into the present day by including sumptuous works by recent practitioners. Among them is Kira Nam Greene. She mixes patterns borrowed from unspecified Western and Eastern sources with images of cherries, baked apples, cupcakes and other foods. The two teeth-bearing creatures in Nibble, Nibble, Gnaw, face the direction of a yellow-frosted layer cake and illustrate the desire to consume it. Greene has suggested that her cakes are substitutes for female bodies, and represent both her attraction and repulsion to portrayals of women in visual culture. Greene’s everyday love of food is apparent on her blog, where you can find recipes and an occasional restaurant review.
Selected Works from the Contemporary Galleries: 1980-NOW @ Museum of Modern Art
Ongoing, works rotate and sometimes are not on view
Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s “candy spills” transform the confections into intense portraits of life and death. Untitled (Placebo) is a response to the AIDS epidemic and the loss of Torres’ partner to related illness. (Torres himself passed away in 1996.) Spread across the floor of MoMA are roughly 40,000 pieces of silver-wrapped hard candy, still and pristine like a layer of fresh snow. Every viewer is invited to take one piece, thus erasing the installation one bite at a time. Periodically replenished by the museum, Untitled is a symbol of decay and renewal. To experience this poignant piece is a real treat.
Beer Here: Brewing New York’s History @ New York Historical Society
On view through September 2
Beer Here will answer questions you didn’t even know you had about the beverage. The exhibition connects dots from the 17th century all the way to the recent renaissance in home brewing. Enlightening objects include fragments of wooden piping that help explain why beer was once thought better to drink than plain water. Hobbit-sized mugs, vintage fashions, and actual hops are some of the more entertaining items on the menu. This history lesson wouldn’t be complete without a section on prohibition, although it tells a familiar story: people will always find ways around the law, especially if it brings them pleasure. Near the center of the show, you might detect the yeasty smell of beer, coming from the bar in the final gallery. Open daily, it offers tastings with Heartland Brewery and the chance to chat up a local brewmaster.
Pizza Machine @ Bushwick Gallery
Included in the online exhibition Vegan Pizza Party, Reed + Rader’s Pizza Machine is a wacky tribute to pepperoni pie–a love song for all things cheesy. Animated slices sway back and forth like metronomes. A character in red face paint earnestly wishes to turn into a pepperoni. The strangely amusing woman pictured above just smiles and shimmies. Pizza Machine is beyond bizarre. And kind of awesome. Watch it here.
Gastro-Vision returns mid-September. Happy summer!